When I was a teenager, starting at 14, I kept a scrapbook. It wasn't full of cutesy stickers or pictures with scalloped edges, that wasn't a big thing until a few years later. This one was a photo album, the kind made from a 3-ring binder full of pages that are sticky on each side and covered with a sheet of clear plastic, crafted into a baby book - you know, those things moms-to-be get at their baby showers and then keep in the box it came in, shoved in the closet or basement ,until you find it long after those babies are no longer babies and you stick it in the yard sale or donate it to goodwill? This one was given to Momma when she was pregnant with Dylan. It had a gender-neutral mother goose fabric and was trimmed with alternating blue and pink lace. The fabric was quilted, and lightly stuffed, and had a picture-frame sleeve sewn into the front cover. But, as a 14 year old girl suddenly with a new life outside of my family, I felt a primal urge to document the important and awesome things that were happening in my life, and it was full of those pages that are sticky on both sides, and so when I found it in the back room downstairs and mom said I could have it, cover be damned, this would fit the bill. I called it "my book". As in, "Do you want to come over and hang out and look at my book? I made a new page last night." Or, "I have an entire page of my book devoted to him," or, "here, look at this page in my book, it'll explain how I feel better than out loud words can."
I spent hours physically formatting pages with high-school class schedules and picture-day wallet-sized photos of my friends, cutting out, with normal straight-edge scissors, from-film pictures taken at Kat's house, at Drill meets, at family events, so I could paste them into my book. I pasted in Valentines from classmates, comic strips, and handwritten poems. I poured over old copies of Readers Digest (from Granny & Pappaw's house) and cut out the best quotes that seemed so epiphanic, so important and new and big to my young 14 year old brain:
"We are born with our eyes closed and our mouths open, and spend our entire lives trying to correct that mistake of nature."
"The words penalty, restrict and violate appeared more times in President Clinton's health care bill than in his crime bill."
"When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us."
"An apology is the super glue of life; it can repair just about anything."
I drew pictures with pencil, practicing the shading skills I was learning in my freshman art class. I cut article titles from Cosmopolitan (mine) and Home & Gardens and Woman's Day and Ladies Home Journal (all mom's) to paste into collages to express my heartache when my boyfriend kissed another girl. I made pages filled with birthday cards from my aunts and grandparents and friends. And more Reader's Digest quotes:
"When one finds himself in a hole of his own making, it is a good time to examine the quality of workmanship."
"Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent."
Newspaper articles from my friend's rappelling accident, the one that nearly killed him.
There's a pretty definitive line where I find my dad's old Time Magazines. All of a sudden, there's a political spin on the pages - they're not just about my day to day life, my relationship drama - there's all of those things, then you turn a page, and there's a black and white cartoon of a man holding a gun on a doctor who's standing between the legs of a pregnant woman who's lying on a table, and the doc is holding the pointed edge of a knife over her belly. The caption says "Justifiable homicide?" The question mark is in the shape of a fetus. Other additions to this page include cut-outs of protest posters that read "choose life, abortion kils" and "why not kill the baby killers?" The next page has pics of flag code violations titled "Do you salute the dog?" and a "Powell '96" button. Turn the page - A cartoon from 2/15/93 that shows a line of people waiting in front of a sign that reads "white house tour" - the guide says "The Clintons ask that there be no smoking in the white house." one of the citizens in line asks, "What if we don't inhale?"
TIME didn't change my scrapbooking style, but it definitely gave me a new facet of my opinions to explore. The traditionally "women-focused" magazines I was drawing from didn't invite me to have a political opinion, and while I am appalled at much of what I apparently believed back in 1994, and while I know none of that was geared toward me, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for that first introduction into political conversation.
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Please don't make me cry.